A mother has said there seems to be “no end to the stress and trauma” of trying to get medical cannabis for her severely epileptic child after a second batch was seized.
Emma Appleby flew back to Britain from the Netherlands on Thursday carrying a month’s supply of medical cannabis oil worth about £2,500 for her nine-year-old daughter Teagan.
But she said Border Force officials confiscated the medication from her when she arrived back at Gatwick Airport at about 3.45pm.
Her daughter Teagan suffers from a rare chromosomal disorder called Isodicentric 15 as well as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which causes up to 300 seizures a day.
This is the second time she has had medical cannabis oil seized after Border Force officials confiscated a three-month supply of the medication, which cost £4,600, from her at Southend Airport in Essex in April.
Ms Appleby, from Aylesham near Dover, said: “There seems no end to the stress and trauma of trying to access the medical cannabis that I have proved beyond doubt transforms the life of my daughter Teagan.
“I am exhausted and shattered but I’ve seen how this medicine transforms my daughter’s life.
“I have to find a way forward. The NHS just won’t prescribe. This is unforgivably cruel and unfair.”
After the first batch was seized, Ms Appleby and her partner Lee had to obtain a prescription from a specialist UK consultant to get it back.
It's unforgivable that parents like Emma are being passed from pillar to post like this
But this time, despite having a private prescription with her, she was told she now needs an import licence, Ms Appleby said.
She added: “I believe that such a licence costs a lot of money. I am just a mum wanting to do the best for my child, not a company importing on a commercial basis.”
The law in the UK was changed last November to make access to medical cannabis legal but parents have been struggling to secure prescriptions, in part due to reluctance within the medical community.
NHS England guidance says it expects that cannabis-based products for medicinal use should “only be prescribed for indications where there is clear published evidence of benefit” and in “patients where there is a clinical need which cannot be met by a licensed medicine and where established treatment options have been exhausted”.
Ms Appleby was accompanied on her trip by MP Tonia Antoniazzi, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Cannabis under Prescription.
The Labour MP for Gower called on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to “get a grip of this and sort it out”.
She added: “The implementation of this new policy is a shambles.
“Emma should not have to get a private prescription and have to cope with going abroad to get the medicine with all the bureaucracy this entails.
“She should be able to get it on the NHS.
“Emma has enough to do caring for her very sick daughter.
“It’s unforgivable that parents like Emma are being passed from pillar to post like this.”
A Government spokesman said: “It is unlawful to import unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use to the UK without a Home Office importation licence.
“There is an established regulatory system which enables the importation of these products to the UK via pharmaceutical wholesalers, so they can be dispensed to UK resident patients prescribed these products by a specialist doctor.
“Border Force has a duty to enforce the law and stop the unlawful import of controlled substances into the UK.”